Accepting Change and Embracing Diversity

Each time a person is wary of change and accepts things as they are, a fear of anything that is different is bred. In its extreme form, such a fear becomes a hatred directed towards anyone who does not fit in existing societal patterns. However, since the only thing constant in this life is change, we know that it is possible to live without fear or hatred. In fact, many things have changed our world for the better.

One such change is celebrated on the 17th of May each year. The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia or IDAHO, is a universal recognition commemorating the World Health Organization’s decision to remove homosexuality from the roster of mental disorders. It is a day that pays tribute to the struggle of sexual minorities like lesbians, bisexuals, and trans people (LBTs) for visibility, acceptance, and recognition of their inherent human dignity as persons.

Homophobia takes on many forms, ranging from acts of discrimination to outright hate crimes. It occurs within families, in places of employment, and the larger public sphere. It is especially difficult for young, urban poor, and working class LBTs who strive to obtain economic justice in the effort to claim their sexual rights. Homophobia, which labels LBTs as aberrant or abnormal, remains at the heart of why the concerns of sexual minorities are rendered invisible whenever any decision that affects the lives of individuals is made.

GALANG celebrates IDAHO this year in solidarity with the Lesbian Alliance Movement: Lakas ng Kababaihan para sa Karapatan (LAM), the Lesbian Alliance Bagbag (LAB), and other LGBT groups condemning hate crimes and bullying, as well as rallying for the passage of the Anti-Discrimination Bills seeking to criminalize discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).

Because the struggle of sexual minorities to be accepted, recognized, and given their rights takes place daily, GALANG believes that it is a struggle that does not end with each IDAHO celebration. It is instead one that will continue until everyone knows what it is like to live without fear and hatred, until diversity has been embraced, and the world has truly changed for the better.

GALANG Philippines is a lesbian-initiated, lesbian-run feminist human rights organization that works with urban poor lesbians, bisexual women, and trans men (LBTs) who struggle with the multiple oppressions of class, poverty, sex, gender identity/expression, and sexual orientation.

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